What a long day this has been and yet it became more and more interesting as the day went on so that our adrenaline kept us going full steam ahead. We got up around 5 a.m. to make it to the Mallorca airport in time for our early flight to Barcelona. Once in Barcelona we had a few hours to kill before our noon-time flight to Naples boarded. Both flights went smoothly and before we knew it…well, taking long naps on that second flight helped…we were in sight of Italian land down below. It was the isle of Ischia and Naples that first came into view.
Once on the ground, baggage in hand, we were met by a driver who was going to get us where we needed to be for the rest of the day. First he drove us to the excavation site of the former Roman city of Pompei.
Pompei had the misfortune to sit at the base of the volcano Vesuvius. In 79 AD, an explosive eruption decimated the city below and it remained covered by ash, dirt, and lava for many centuries. When its excavation was finally begun in the early 20th century, it was found that the sudden ash and lava eruption had encapsulated the city preserving it as a perfect representation of what life was like in the city right up to the minute it was destroyed that fateful day.
Most of the castings that were done of the people who died in Pompei that day are now in museums but a few remain on display. It’s eerie how the expressions and positioning of the bodies show the last, desperate, moments of their lives.
Pompei was a vibrant, living, working city not all that different from what takes place in modern cities today.
The artistry of the mosaic tile floors and hand-painted walls in this well-to-do person’s home show just how advanced their skills were and how the arts were an important part of their culture.
These were called Thermopoliums. The counters were open to the streets and hot dishes sat in the enclosures being warmed by smoldering embers below, kind of like current-day Panda Express! We learned that it was common for most people in Pompei to eat lunch out, rather than at their homes, and a varitey of these establishments lined one of the more prominent streets in the city to serve the populace.
This amphitheater, located in the southeast corner of the city, focused on entertaining the citizens with gory battles by man against man or man against beast. It is considered the best preserved, oldest Roman amphitheater in existence. It was built in 80 BC.
After visiting Pompei for 3 hours, which was enough for our tired selves but not nearly enough time to see most of what there is to see, our driver met us again and drove us further south to the town of Sorrento where we will be staying the next few days. This photo was taken from our apartment on one of its balconies. I resisted the urge to place Ryan’s head directly under Mt. Vesuvius to make him look like he had a large cone head.
We took this picture from the outdoor terrace of the restaurant where we had dinner. Our apartment is the 2nd floor corner unit in the building closest to the camera. We are in a marina district right down at the waterfront. Most of Sorrento is built up on top of the massive cliffs. You can either take copious amounts of stairs to get up there or there is a convenient elevator which will do the trick with less effort. We plan to use the stairs…”plan” being the operative word. We’ll see how we feel about it tomorrow when we go up to explore Sorrento.
Being close to Naples, where pizza has its origins, the famous pie dish is available everywhere here. Our landlord said this was his favorite pizza in Sorrento. After having eaten two of them, we can’t disagree with him. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to do further research on the subject while we’re in this part of the world, however!
This view out on the Bay of Naples was ours while eating dinner tonight – a happy and welcome moment of serendipity for us to have the sunset accompany our first meal in Italy.
So, this has been a very successful introduction to Italy for Ryan on his first time in this romantic country. It’s Clint’s second time in Italy but first time in this part of the country. If today was any indication, we’re going to love being here!